There’s no question that Tesla overwhelmingly dominates the U.S. market for battery-electric vehicles. That said, Chevrolet has positioned itself as second in line with the Bolt EV launched four years ago.
The little hatchback gets a modest facelift this year that could keep it fresh. But the bowtie brand is betting it can gain even more momentum with the launch of the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV. The combination of the two models should “deliver a combined 1-2 punch,” offering potential BEV buyers a second long-range option, said Chevy marketing chief Steve Majoros during a media background briefing last month.
The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV — or “Extended Utility Vehicle” — shares the same basic platform as the shorter Bolt EV. It provides potential buyers several advantages, starting with a more SUV-like design, a roomier interior and new technology that includes the first application of General Motors’ hands-free Super Cruise technology outside the Cadillac brand.
Despite the added length and mass, it sacrifices a mere 9 miles of range compared to the Bolt EV – though both of them lag behind the longer-range versions of the Model Y, Tesla’s most direct competitor.
One number that could be particularly appealing is the EUV’s $33,995 starting price – which is $3,000 under what Chevy was asking for the original Bolt EV. (That model also gets a $5,000 price cut for 2022, now starting at $31,995.) That’s a significant advantage considering that, even with a recent price cut, the Model Y Standard Range starts at $39,900. Buyers should note that both GM and Tesla have passed the federal threshold and lost the tax credits of up to $7,500 that many competitors still offer.
While they both wear a “Bolt” badge and share the same skateboard-like platform, the EV and EUV share not a single piece of exterior sheet metal. The updated Bolt EV retains a relatively traditional hatchback appearance, the EUV adopting more SUV-like dimensions. That starts with a more upright, and model-specific grille and two-tier LED lighting, the “high-eye” daytime running lights sweeping into the front quarter panels.
The stretched edition adds a center crease line running from the front fascia through the hood, with a coke bottle curve to the lower door panels. It then takes an upward hook to the beltline that sweeps from the rear doors towards the integrated spoiler above the tailgate.
Considering the way SUVs, in all their various shapes, dominate the current U.S. market the new look should clearly do a better job of connecting with potential buyers.
The Bolt EUV grows 6 inches over the EV, fully half of that going into additional rear seat legroom. Whether seated up front or in back, there is much less of a claustrophobic feel to the electric SUV.
Both models feature a new instrument panel design for 2022 that, among other things, introduces a larger 10.3-inch touchscreen to handle infotainment duties – which here add a number of functions, the Bolt siblings using a minimum of traditional knobs and switches. A second, 8-inch reconfigurable display replaces conventional analog gauges.
There are new seats, which can be ordered with both heating and ventilation. And the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV adopts a new gear shift with toggles and buttons, a design the automaker claims frees up interior space.
One of the nice updates can be found on the new, flat-bottom steering wheel that here adds several new features. That includes Super Cruise — of which I’ll explain more in a moment — and a new Regen on Demand paddle. It activates what’s commonly known as one-pedal driving. Lift your foot only slightly off the throttle and the EUV will quickly slow down, much as if you had downshifted a gas-powered vehicle several gears.
The Regen on Demand paddle acts much as the downshift paddles on many modern vehicles, but the effect is temporary. You can opt to remain in One-Pedal Mode by tapping a second button. This has several advantages: allowing you to simply modulate the throttle, rather than jump back and forth from pedal to pedal to slow a bit. It also recaptures energy, sending it back to the battery pack to increase range.
The lithium-ion pack is lifted whole from the smaller Bolt EV and features a capacity of 65 kilowatt-hours. In the EUV it yields an estimated range of 250 miles on a full charge, just 9 miles less than the smaller battery-electric vehicle.
For those worried about the reliability of that pack, Chevy features an 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on the liquid-cooled pack.
Power is directed to a single electric motor delivering 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. As with most of the latest-wave battery-electric vehicles, that power comes on almost instantaneously.
Both Bolt models offer a newly upgraded charging cable – which is standard on the EUV and optional on the EV. Swap the plug and you can connect it to either a 120- or 240-volt outlet. The factory cable delivers up to 7 kilowatts, but the built-in system can handle up to 11 kW if you have access to a faster home, work or public charger. If there’s a fast charger nearby, the Bolt EV adds up to 100 miles in 30 minutes, the EUV 95 miles. Unfortunately, the electrical system is designed to max out at 50 kW and doesn’t gain any speed if you plug into some of the newest 150 and 350 kW fast chargers.
Safety & Technology
The most significant news here is the availability of GM’s Super Cruise, currently offered on only a handful of Cadillac models. The system is similar in operation to Tesla’s better-known Autopilot allowing a driver to switch it on and let Super Cruise take virtually full control of the vehicle. A key caveat is that it only operates on limited access highways, though that recently was expanded to include 200,000 miles of U.S. and Canadian roadways.
The system has earned some impressive endorsements. Just months ago, Consumer Reports magazine rated Super Cruise significantly higher than Autopilot, viewed by many as the leading system. The magazine offered a number of reasons why, starting with the Driver Attention System. Among other things, it does a better job of tracking the human behind the wheel, the magazine noted. Start sightseeing, check your smartphone or grow tired, Super Cruise will sound an alert and, if need be, slow down until you retake control. It will even come to a stop and call for help if it concludes there’s a medical emergency.
An asterisk should be added here: the EUV gets the first-generation version of Super Cruise. Among other things, it doesn’t offer the ability to tap the turn signal to get the system to automatically change lanes or pass, like the newest iteration.
The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV also offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, the ability to use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and a number of other In-Vehicle apps. Safety technology includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, cross-traffic alert and more.
If you’ve not driven one of the latest battery-electric vehicles you could be in for a shock, especially if you think of BEVs as slow and stodgy. The Bolt EUV takes good advantage of the instant torque generated by its electric motor, enough that you’ll be surprised the first few times you’re pushed back into the driver’s seat.
Chevy didn’t release numbers, but the Bolt EV can manage 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. This puts it in line with the Hyundai Kona EV – though nowhere near the roughly 3.2-second launch the performance package offered on the Tesla Model 3 can muster. The larger, heavier Bolt EUV is likely to come in closer to 7 seconds, again giving advantage to the Tesla Model Y.
I had relatively limited time driving the 2022 EUV and can’t really offer a definitive review of handling. That will have to wait until later this year. Nonetheless, the overall feel was a definite improvement over the Bolt EV, with no noticeable tendency to “trolley” when riding on grooved concrete pavement – a modest flaw of the original.
As for Super Cruise, it takes a bit of getting familiar with the system. It wants you to be centered in your lane before activating and, once or twice, gave a modest jerk when I hadn’t quite hit the line. You also need to get used to it occasionally checking in to make sure you’re paying attention, ready to take over in an emergency. Among other things, it will ask you to check your mirrors to track you head movements.
You need to be at the ready as Super Cruise may suddenly tell you to take over as it approaches a highway interchange or the end of a mapped route.
While the original Chevy Bolt EV may not have the flash, nor the following, of its Tesla rivals, it offered plenty of reasons to buy for those interested in an affordable EV. It increased the appeal with a big price cut on the newly updated model.
Now, add the more dynamic design, increased room and all the available technology on the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV. With a price tag that pushes into mainstream territory, and range that most buyers could readily live with, there’s good reason to check out the bowtie brand’s newest battery-car.
During the next four years, GM plans to bring out 30 all-electric vehicles. If the Bolt EUV is any indication of what’s in store, Tesla needs to be nervous.